In a Buddhist context, compassion isn’t limited to a feeling toward others. Compassion toward oneself is important as well. Sometimes it’s more important. Now, you might think that of course we are compassionate toward ourselves. We may not act in our best interest all the time, but we certainly have a wish to avoid pain and to experience pleasure as much as possible and it can be very easy to feel sorry for ourselves when we are suffering. But, can it be said that we are always acting out of compassion for ourselves? We can definitely judge ourselves to harshly sometimes. While it may seem like we already have compassion toward ourselves, we often don’t act in our own self interest. We sometimes do things that we know are bad for us. That’s because we aren’t giving ourselves the right amount of compassion. We should do what’s best for ourselves as much as possible. Also, giving into anger and lashing out is a way of not giving ourselves compassion.
The best thing to do when something happens that causes us pain is to react with compassion. By that I mean compassion for yourself. If I feel compassion for myself, I won’t want to cause myself greater suffering by amplifying an already bad situation. I will want to try to resolve the situation, or at least try to get through it as painlessly as possible. That’s certainly not easy, but if we can just get into that mindset it is helpful. When something happens to upset us, we can take some deep breaths and say to ourselves, “Treat yourself with compassion.”